Ankheg Variants for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

ankheg variants for 5e dungeons and dragons

Let’s talk about ankhegs, the big ol’ acid-spitting ant monsters from D&D 5e–well, from pretty much any D&D edition. Here’s what I’ll cover in this session about ankhegs:

  • What is an ankheg?
  • How do ankhegs fight?
  • What ankheg variants are needed?
  • 5 new ankheg variants (plus a vegepygmy spin-off!)

What is an ankheg?

According to the Monster Manual, an ankheg resembles an enormous many-legged insect. It’s got long antennae that twitches in response to movement around it. And it’s got legs that end in sharp hooks, which evolved from the need to burrow through tough earth and grab onto prey Meanwhile, its mandibles are strong enough to snap a small tree in half. Oh yeah, they can also spit acid.

Think of them as giant, mutant ants.

How do ankhegs fight?

Ankhegs are unaligned monstrosities with 1 Intelligence. That means they live solely to find food, mate, and survive. It’s unlikely that they’ll challenge anything that poses a serious threat to it as their Wisdom is high enough to know when the going’s getting tough.

If they do fight, they’re total brutes, with high strength and low Dex. That means all their fighting is done in melee.

They do have an acid spray attack that can do some damage at range, but most likely that’s used only as a last resort (and other resources confirm this) to escape or scare off larger predators or the odd adventurer.

However, ankhegs do have tremorsense, which gives them the ability to surprise prey. Likely though, this prey will be docile livestock and things that are easy to catch. It’s not totally out of character for one to eat the child of a farmer, thinking it’s just another pig or goat. It’s not evil, they’re just not clever enough to know the difference (or care).

What ankheg variants are needed?

Ankhegs are bugs. And if I was a betting person, I’d say that their society is something akin to ant colonies. Doing a little research on ant colonies on the ol’ Wikipedia, I learned that ants have one large, egg-laying queen, supported by a number of sterile females as workers and soldiers. Then, during getting-jiggy season, there’s a whole mess of winged males and females, too, who fly off to mate and keep the colony going. Hubba hubba!

So that gives us somewhere to start:

  • We can assume that the ankhegs in the Monster Manual are probably the sterile female worker/soldiers of the colony.
  • That means we’ll need to develop the “boss” level female to oversee the whole colony. A queen.
  • And we’ll also need the winged versions.
  • For good measure, we should probably throw in some little guys, too. Freshly hatched ankheg babies.
  • Ankhegs have low intelligence, which makes them easily susceptible to psionics. So we might consider creating a spin-off that control ankhegs a la Ant-man’s helmet. Potentially a duergar or something similar.
  • Finally, ankhegs are tied closely to the earth. Let’s create an ankheg variant that’s from the Elemental Plane of Earth, too.

5 ankheg variants for your 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons games (plus a vegepygmy).

In addition to what I’ll dub the ankheg warrior in the Monsters Manual (page 21, by the way), it will be led by the Huge-sized ankheg queen. She will be stronger, smarter, and deadlier than the basic ankheg. To compare ankhegs to the kruthik from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, the hive lords are CR 5 vs the base kruthik’s 2. So, that’s probably a good model there since ankheg warriors also have CR 2.

To surround the ankheg queen will be its larvae and plenty of freshly hatching ankheg young. Basically, these guys are Small, baby versions of the larger ankheg warriors.

Then we’ll have winged ankheg. While smaller than most ankhegs at Medium size, these swingers will be faster than the big ol’ burst-from-the-ground warriors.

Remembering back to stories of fungi that could turn ants into zombies, I thought having something similar in D&D would be pretty cool and totally fit in. The yellow musk creeper already kinda does the whole “plant possessing” someone gig, so I figured having a vegepygmy do it instead would be fun. Thus the vegepygmy invader was born.

Finally, our brute bug from the Elemental Plane of Earth is the stonejaw ankheg. These guys are no joke. Tougher, meaner, and able to burrow through solid rock. And instead of dissolving you with acid spray, they turn you into rock and eat you like that. Delightful!

As usual, these beasties are free for you to use in your D&D 5e campaigns. Just not commercially! And the art isn’t mine. Borrowed!

 

ankheg variants for 5e dungeons and dragons - ankheg queen

Ankheg Queen

Huge monstrosity, unaligned


Armor Class 16 (natural armor), 13 while prone

Hit Points 110 (13d12 + 26)

Speed 40 ft., burrow 20 ft.


Abilities Str 21 (+5), Dex 11 (+0), Con 15 (+2), Int 4 (-3), Wis 15 (+2), Cha 8 (-1)


Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 12

Languages

Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)


Actions

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (2d10 + 5) slashing damage plus 9 (2d6) acid damage. If the target is a Huge or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 15). Until this grapple ends, the ankheg can bite only the grappled creature and has advantage on the attack rolls to do so.

Acid Spray (Recharge 6). The ankheg spits acid in a line that is 60-feet long and 5 feet wide, provided that it has no creature grappled. Each creature in that line must make a DC 15 saving throw, taking 21 (6d6) damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.

 

ankheg-young

Ankheg Young

Small monstrosity, unaligned


Armor Class 12 (natural armor), 10 while prone

Hit Points 14 (4d6)

Speed 20 ft., burrow 5 ft.


Abilities Str 13 (+1), Dex 11 (+0), Con 10 (+0), Int 1 (-5), Wis 9 (-1), Cha 8 (-1)


Senses darkvision 30 ft., tremorsense 30 ft., passive Perception 9

Languages

Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)


Actions

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 2 (1d4) slashing damage. If the target is a Small or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 11). Until this grapple ends, the ankheg can bite only the grappled creature and has advantage on the attack rolls to do so.

 

ankheg variants for 5e dungeons and dragons

Stonejaw Ankheg

Huge elemental, unaligned


Armor Class 21 (natural armor), 17 while prone

Hit Points 142 (15d12 + 45)

Speed 40 ft., burrow 20 ft.


Abilities Str 23 (+6), Dex 11 (+0), Con 17 (+3), Int 2 (-4), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 6 (-1)


Condition Immunities petrified

Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 12

Languages

Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)


Tunneler. The ankheg can burrow through solid rock at half its burrowing speed and leaves a 15-foot diameter tunnel in its wake.


Actions

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 27 (4d10 + 6) slashing damage. If the target is a Huge or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 16). Until this grapple ends, the ankheg can bite only the grappled creature and has advantage on the attack rolls to do so.

Petrification Breath (Recharge 6). The ankheg exhales petrifying dust in a line that is 30 feet long and 5 feet wide, provided that it has no creature grappled. Each creature in that line must make a DC 16 saving throw against being magically petrified. On a failed save, the creature begins to turn to stone and is restrained. It must repeat the saving throw at the end of its next turn. On a success, the effect ends. On a failure the creature is petrified until freed by the greater restoration spell or other magic.

 

vegepygmy-invader

Vegepygmy Invader

Small plant, neutral


Armor Class 13 (natural armor)

Hit Points 22 (5d6 + 5)

Speed 30 ft.


Abilities Str 7 (-2), Dex 14 (+2), Con 13 (+1), Int 7 (-2), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 12 (+1)


Skills Perception +3, Stealth +4

Damage Resistances lightning, piercing

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13

Languages Vegepygmy

Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)


Plant Camouflage. The vegepygmy has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks it makes in any terrain with ample obscuring plant life.

Regeneration. The vegepygmy regains 5 hit points at the start of its turn. If it takes cold, fire, or necrotic damage, this trait doesn’t function at the start of the vegepygmy’s next turn. The vegepygmy dies only if it starts it turn with 0 hit points and doesn’t regenerate.


 

Actions

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) slashing damage and 4 (1d8) psychic damage. If the target is a creature, it must make a DC 11 Intelligence save or become diseased with zombie fungus spores. The disease lasts until it is removed with a lesser restoration spell or similar disease-removing magic.  The diseased target’s Intelligence score decreases by 2 for every 24 hours that elapse. If the disease reduces the target’s Intelligence to 0, the target dies, and its brain sprouts a mushroom. Unless the mushroom is destroyed, the corpse animates as a fungal zombie after being dead for 24 hours. The mushroom is destroyed if the creature is raised from the dead before it can transform into a fungal zombie, or if the corpse is targeted by a lesser restoration spell or similar magic before it animates.

Zombie Lord (Recharge 4-6). One creature the vegepygmy can see within 30 feet of it can use its reaction to make a melee attack if it has the fungal zombie tag.

 

Fungal Zombie Ankheg

Large undead (fungal zombie), unaligned


Armor Class 13 (natural armor), 10 while prone

Hit Points 44 (8d10 + 8)

Speed 25 ft., burrow 5 ft.

 


Abilities Str 17 (+3), Dex 9 (-1), Con 13 (+1), Int 1 (-5), Wis 6 (-2), Cha 6 (-2)


Saving Throws Wis +0

Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion

Senses blindsight 30 ft., darkvision 60ft., tremorsense 60 ft., passive perception 8

Languages

Challenge 2 (450 XP)


Undead Fortitude. If damage reduces the zombie to 0 hit points, it must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5 + the damage taken, unless the damage is fire or from a critical hit. On a success, the zombie drops to 1 hit point instead.

Actions

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3) slashing damage plus 3 (1d6) acid damage. If the target is a Large or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 13). Until this grapple ends, the ankheg can bite only the grappled creature and has advantage on attack rolls to do so.

Acid Spray (Recharge 6). The ankheg spits acid in a line that is 30-feet long and 5 feet wide, provided that it has no creature grappled. Each creature in that line must make a DC 13 saving throw, taking 10 (3d6) damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.

 

winged-ankheg

Winged Ankheg

Medium monstrosity, unaligned


Armor Class 15 (natural armor), 13 while prone

Hit Points 27 (6d8)

Speed 30 ft., burrow 10 ft., fly 30 ft.


Abilities Str 13 (+1), Dex 16 (+3), Con 11 (+0), Int 1 (-5), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 6 (-2)

Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 11

Languages

Challenge 1 (200 XP)


 

Actions

Multiattack. The ankheg makes one bite attack.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+ 3) slashing damage plus 2 (1d4) acid damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 11). Until this grapple ends, the ankheg can bite only the grappled creature and has advantage on the attack rolls to do so.

 

Thanks for reading!

Time to go on a bug hunt! You’ve got all sorts of ankhegs coming at you. Queens, winged ones, regular ones, baby ones, rock-monster ones, and even zombie ones!

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with azers which will finish up the A section of the Monster Manual. That should be a lot of fun, too, ’cause I love fire stuff!

See you later!

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.